By Ronald Koziol.
April 22, 1985
Former gambling kingpin Ken Eto, survivor
of a gangland assassination attempt, is expected to set the stage
Monday as the first witness when the President`s Commission on
Organized Crime convenes in Chicago for a three-day inquiry into
James Harmon, commission executive director,
would not disclose names of witnesses Sunday. But he said "persons
who have been inside the mob" will be among the 25 people
Another 35 underworld figures and labor officials
who also were subpoenaed are considered hostile witnesses who
are expected to exercise their 5th Amendment right against incriminating
Eto, according to sources, will tell of his
association with Vincent Solano, head of Local 1 of the International
Laborers Union, who also was subpoenaed. Solano has been identified
in testimony before the Senate Permanent Investigation Subcommittee
as a boss of Chicago`s underworld. Laborers Union activities in Chicago and
New York and the union`s connections to organized crime will be
explored in detail during the hearing, Harmon said.
The hearing will also focus on alleged mismanagement
of union welfare funds, secret wiretaps in which mobsters
discussed payoffs by union bosses and a list of underworld figures
who "own" certain unions. "There will be things that have never
been brought out before," Harmon said during a news conference
Sunday. He said conditions are so bad in New York City that a
building cannot be constructed without dealing with mob- controlled
In an earlier statement, U.S. Court of Appeals
Judge Irving Kaufman of New York, chairman of the 19-member panel,
said manipulation of union benefit funds is a classic example
of how corruption can undermine the health and future of working
men and women. Harmon acknowledged that law enforcement
officials have been unable to control labor racketeering, but
he said the commission is hopeful it can make legislative recommendations
that can combat the problem.
The commission, created by President Reagan
in July, 1982, goes out of existence next March.
Harmon said a small percentage of the nation`s
labor unions are controlled by organized crime. A detailed staff
study of all of these unions will be made public at a later date,
Security at the Dirksen Federal Building
is expected to be the most extensive in recent years. Visitors
to the 25th-floor ceremonial courtroom where the hearings will
be held will have to go through metal detectors and searches.
Copyright 1998, The Tribune Company.